Pearl: Section I (Modern version)

By Anonymous Anonymous
I

1

Pearl, the precious prize of a king,
Chastely set in cherished gold,
In all the East none equalling,   
No peer to her could I behold.
So round, so rare, a radiant thing,
So smooth she was, so small of mold,
Wherever I judged gems glimmering   
I set her apart, her price untold.
Alas, I lost her in earth’s green fold;
Through grass to the ground, I searched in vain.
I languish alone; my heart grows cold
For my precious pearl without a stain.

2

Since in that spot it slipped from me,
I lingered, longing for that delight   
That from my sins once set me free
And my happiness raised to the highest height.
Her going wounds me grievously;
It burns my breast both day and night.
Yet I never imagined a melody
So sweet as she, so brief, and slight.
But memory flowed through my mind’s sight:
I thought how her color in clods had lain
O dust that dims what once was bright,
My precious pearl without a stain.

3

Rare spices on that spot must spread:
Such riches there to rot have run,
Blooms of yellow and blue and red,
Their sheen a shimmer against the sun,
Flower and fruit nor faded nor dead,
Where the pearl dropped down in mouldering dun;
Each grass from a lifeless grain is bred,
Else to harvest no wheat were won:
Always from good is good begun.
So seemly a seed could not die in vain,
That sprig nor spice there would be none   
Of that precious pearl without a stain.

4

To the spot which I in speech portray,
I entered in that arbor green,
In August on a holy day,
When the corn is cut with sickles keen.
On the little rise where my pearl rolled away,
The fairest flowers formed a screen:
Gillyflower, ginger, gromwell spray,
With peonies powdered in between.
If they were seemly to be seen,
Far sweeter the scents from that domain,
More worthy her dwelling, well I ween,
My precious pearl without a stain.

5

I mourned, hands clenched, before that mound,
For the piercing cold of grief had caught
Me in the doleful dread and bound
My heart, though reason solace sought.
I longed for my pearl, locked in the ground,
While fierce contentions in me fought.
In Christ, though comfort could be found,
My wretched will was still distraught.
I fell upon that flowery plot.
Such odors eddied in my brain,
To sudden slumber I was brought
By that precious pearl without a stain.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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